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Does Schneider Electric Solar Inverters and/or Charge Controllers meet the NEC section 690.11 requirements for PV ARC fault circuit interruption (AFCI)?

Issue:

Do Schneider Solar inverters or charge controllers meet the NEC 2011 section 690 requirements for PV arc fault circuit interruption (AFCI)?

Product Line:

Conext SW, Conext XW/XW+, MPPT 60 150, MPPT 80 600

Environment:

PV system with Schneider / Xantrex inverters or charge controllers with PV array voltage above 80VDC.

Resolution:

The XW inverter itself does not deal with DC voltages above 80V so NEC 690.2011 does not apply to it. It would apply to our C40, MPPT60 / 80 charge controllers and grid-tied inverters. None of these meet the requirement.

As of late 2013, only SMA and Fronious grid-tied inverters are marketed as having AFCI protection. Charge-controllers with built-in AFCI protection do not appear to be available yet.

Currently the only solutions that exist with our affected products are external solutions - a PV combiner box with AFCI protection made by SolarBOS
http://www.solarbos.com/AFCI-Combiners and a standalone arc fault detector made by Santon http://www.santonswitchgear.com/products/view-all-products/category/arc-fault-detection-unit.html

NEC standards are typically written before products are readily available as a way to steer the industry in that direction. Typically the authority having jurisdiction at an install site will grant an exemption to the current NEC standard if equipment is not readily available yet and current equipment on site conforms to the previous writing of the standard.

Cause:

NEC: Section 690.11
Photovoltaic systems with dc source circuits, dc output circuits, or both, on or penetrating a building operating at a PV system maximum system voltage of 80 volts or greater, shall be protected by a listed (dc) arc-fault circuit interrupter, PV type, or other system components listed to provideequivalent protection. The PV arc-fault protection means shall comply with the following requirements:

(1) The system shall detect and interrupt arcing faults resulting from a failure in the intended continuity of a conductor, connection, module, or other system component in the dc PV source and output circuits.

(2) The system shall disable or disconnect one of the following:

a. Inverters or charge controllers connected to the fault circuit when the fault is detected
b. System components within the arcing circuit

(3) The system shall require that the disabled or disconnected equipment be manually restarted.

(4) The system shall have an annunciator that provides a visual indication that the circuit interrupter has operated. This indication shall not reset automatically
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